Tonsillitis is a medical condition where the tonsils become inflamed. The condition is mostly caused by a viral infection but sometimes, it can also be caused by a bacterial infection.
The tonsils are two oval-shaped pads of tissue at the back of the throat which helps to fight germs and acts as a barrier therefore trapping germs that would otherwise cause infections in the airways. When the tonsils become infected, they trap the infection and stop it from spreading further to other parts of the body.
These are some facts about tonsillitis:
- It occurs frequently in children, teenagers and young adults
- As a person gets older and the immune system develops and gets stronger, the tonsils become less necessary and shrinks gradually
- The tonsils can be removed from the body in cases of repeated tonsillitis
- Symptoms include: sore throat, ear ache, high temperature, difficulty swallowing, coughing and tender lymph nodes on the side of the neck
- A person infected with bacterial tonsillitis can spread the infection to others
Tonsillitis is usually a mild condition and does not require a visit to the hospital. There is no specific treatment for tonsillitis; it is usually recommended that an infected person gets plenty of rest, drink plenty fluids and use over-the-counter pain relieving drugs.
In most cases, symptoms usually get better within a week. If however symptoms last longer than four days without signs of improvement, and other symptoms like difficulty breathing, extreme difficulty with eating or drinking occur, a doctor should be seen.
Treatment of chronic and recurrent tonsillitis depends on its cause. This makes it necessary for a doctor to be seen so proper examination can be carried out.
Antibiotics can be given to treat chronic tonsillitis and surgery can sometimes be performed to remove the tonsils when bacterial tonsillitis occur frequently, does not respond to other treatments and serious complications occur.